Samsung Galaxy Buds review: Comfy, light and easy to use

These new wireless ear buds are smaller and lighter than their predecessors, meaning they don’t get uncomfortable to wear after a few hours

Samsung Galaxy Buds: The fit, design and sound are all top notch
Samsung Galaxy Buds
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Price: €159
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Sooner or later, everyone discovers the bad thing about wireless ear buds: the risk of losing one is fairly high. Even if you are strict about putting them away each time you use them, inevitably your attention will slip one day, and you’ll have to do the Pocket Pat of Inevitable Disappointment.

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are no exception. But until the day one went missing, the Galaxy Buds were taking over as my ear buds of choice.

Samsung has learned a lot from its its initial foray into this territory with the IconX released first in 2016 and updated last year. The new buds are smaller and lighter than their predecessors, meaning they don't get uncomfortable to wear after a few hours, and they feel more secure in your ears if you are running. The IconX never budged but they did feel as if they might, on occasion.

The Buds, like the IconX, come with different wings and tips that make getting the right fit easy. Even if you have smaller ears than average, the buds have a fitting suitable for you.


Getting up and running with the Galaxy Buds is simple if you have a Galaxy phone. Similar to the AirPods, there is a quick pair feature for Samsung phones that makes the set up quick and easy. You simply open the case near your device and the option to pair them pops up.

You aren’t limited to Samsung devices; obviously they will work best with Samsung’s phones, but the Samsung Wear app is available to download from the Play Store. So if you have an Android phone made in the last couple of years, chances are it will work with these earbuds.

Touch pads

You can also link them with iOS devices, simply by opening the charging case with the buds inside, and scanning for new bluetooth devices. Again, you won’t get quite the same experience as you would if you were using a Samsung device and only some of the control you’d have if you had the Galaxy Wear app, but they’ll work for listening to music and summoning Siri.

The buds have small touchpads on the outside that control everything from virtual assistants – Bixby, Google Assistant or Siri, depending on your phone – to hanging up on calls or pausing your music. Using the app, you can also customise by using the tap and hold gesture to control access to the quick ambient sound mode, volume and Bixby.

The ambient sound mode is handy if you need to have a quick word, although you can use the app to turn it on for longer periods in the app.

Controlling music was easy: tap to play or pause a track; two taps to skip. Although I initially found the touch gestures fiddly, over time they improved.

Like the AirPods and the iconX , the Buds case is also its charger. You have a choice between USB C charging or wireless pads; you only get six hours of listening from a full charge of the buds, so the case is essential for long journeys. It gives you an extra seven hours, which is a little disappointing. To put it in context, the new Airpods will give you five hours, but the case will bump that up to 24.

If you have the Galaxy Wear app – sorry iPhone users – then you can fiddle with the audio settings, messing with the bass and treble to get things on the equaliser settings sorted any niggles with different types of audio.

However, you don’t have a huge amount of control – the bass boost is all or nothing, for example; there’s no incremental changes available.

The app, if you can access it, is very handy. Not only can it be used to set up the ear buds and connect them to your Android device, it also gives you information about their current status – connection, battery life, the equaliser settings – and locate a missing ear bud (as long as they’re in range and have battery).

The good

The fit, design and sound are all top notch – for the most part. Soundwise, the buds are great for their size, and the ability to mess with the equaliser settings helps. The touchpads take a little practice due to the small size, but it all works well.

The not so good

Occasional weirdness with the connection meant audio went a bit echoey and out of sync, although it always resolved itself in seconds and was a rare occurrence.

The rest

There is a choice of colours with the buds, including a bright yellow set.

The verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Buds are a great addition to wireless audio. As long as you manage to hold on to two of them.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist